Monday Mornings with Madison

Intellectual Property: Are Your Brands, Products and Services Protected? – Part 2

Part 2:  Copyright Protection

Anyone with a new invention or process must file for a patent in order to protect his or her ownership and use rights.  However, that is not so for new works of art, photos, pictures, songs, books, manuscripts, publications, plays, movies, and shows, among other things. For items of creative expression, copyright is automatic, meaning that nothing needs to be done to claim copyright protection. Although additional rights are provided if the work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, legal protection is guaranteed once a work is created – which is the day it is “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” Continue reading

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Intellectual Property: Are your Brands, Products and Services Protected? – Part 1

Trademarks and Service Marks

The average person knows very little about patents, copyrights, trademarks and service marks.  They all fall within the complex legal realm of protecting the rights to something unique created by or belonging to a person or company, generally referred to as ‘intellectual property’.   If you ask the typical entrepreneur if his brand needs a trademark or service mark, he probably wouldn’t know.  And if you asked an average CEO to explain if or when a product needs a patent, he is unlikely to know the answer.  In fact, even the average attorney knows little about this niche area of the law.  It focuses on that special axis point where creativity and invention intersects with business and marketing. Continue reading

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Obsession: The Shared Quality of the Uber-Successful

Obsession is an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes in a person’s mind; a compulsive or even irrational fixation. Obsessive thinking often leads to habitual, uncontrollable behavior.  Mildly obsessive behavior is seen as a personality quirk.  In extreme cases, it is even characterized as a mental defect.  In fact, there is even a recognized psychological condition called Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.  People who have Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder may engage in repeated illogical behaviors such as serial hand washing, compulsive checking (to see if a door is locked or an oven is off) or hoarding.  Psychologists think that perhaps obsessive behavior originates from the brain’s warning system to ensure people worry about everyday things such as whether something is still good to eat, or to be aware if a noise is approaching from behind or to be alert to protect children from harm.  Then it grows from there into thoughts and behaviors that are ‘out of control.’

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Go Mobile or Go Home

Marketing is constantly evolving.  First there was print advertising.  Then came persuasive radio commercials.  After that came colorful TV ads.  Then, with the evolution of technology and the advent of the World Wide Web, companies established an online presence.   Business owners quickly surmised that without a website, their company would not be perceived as ‘legitimate’ or ‘reputable’ by most consumers.  Even the smallest mom-n-pop shops set up simple, informative websites   Then, as e-commerce flourished, websites became more sophisticated.  Then companies were forced to go social.  Social media sites sprouted up like weeds and companies had to get engaged or be forgotten.  All of this marketing takes time and costs money.  Still, the pace of change is relentless and businesses are now facing yet another change thanks to the growing tidal wave of Smartphones.  Used by tweens, teens and adults of all ages, Smartphones are quickly taking over the shopping landscape and businesses are now feeling pressured to design websites that are mobile-friendly. Continue reading

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Cultivate Creativity for Business Success

Creativity is an invaluable skill… one that everyone wants to possess but not everyone has.  It is a quality that companies desperately desire in their employees, but one that has been nearly impossible to test for, spot or measure in any discernable way.  From the smallest shops to the most successful Fortune 100 companies, everyone wants the most creative talent.  Why is creativity so sought-after yet so elusive…. so needed and yet so scarce?  It is because creativity makes people more effective and resourceful problem-solvers… and ultimately solving problems is what businesses do.  That’s the crux of it.  Solving problems is how companies make money. Continue reading

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Humor Me

There is nothing comical about the power of humor.  Many of the greatest leaders in history are reported to have had a good sense of humor, even those that might have also had reportedly great flaws.  For example, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, who was believed to suffer from clinical depression, was known to have a keen wit.  Possibly using humor as an antidote to his melancholy, Lincoln had no qualm about using self-deprecating remarks to ease tension and bond with others.  U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower also understood the power of humor.  Of it he said, “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.”  The strong connection between humor and leadership was confirmed in a 2012 study by the Bell Leadership Institute in Chapel Hill, NC.  The study found that when employees were asked to describe the strengths and weaknesses of senior leadership in their organizations, sense of humor and work ethic were mentioned twice as much as any other phrases. In the study, they surveyed approximately 2,700 employees in a variety of workplace settings over a two-year period.  The obvious conclusion is that humor is a vital tool of leadership. Continue reading

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Handling Difficult People – Part 2

Part 2 – The Exhausting Employee

In most companies, being a manager comes with certain perks. The manager may get a bigger or nicer office. The manager might have an assigned parking space. The manager is likely to make more money and earn more vacation time. However, being a manager is not a total cake walk. There’s a reason managers typically earn more and get more perks. The job can be tough. While a manager’s job primarily entails managing people, products and processes, make no mistake that dealing with challenging employees is probably the hardest part of the job. “Difficult employees” – which can be manifested in a myriad of ways – are time-consuming to manage. It is usually the most draining and thankless part of any management position. Continue reading

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Handling Difficult People – Part 1

Part 1:  The Challenging Client

According to Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”  If employees are the lifeblood of a company, then customers are its food and water…. the basic nutrition without which a company cannot exist.  But digesting those nutrients is not always easy.  Companies often struggle with how to handle ‘difficult’ clients.  What is the right protocol for handling the most hard-to-please clientele?  After all, the adage says that the customer is always right.  If so, then how should a company handle those most challenging clients?  Should a company kowtow to an ill-tempered client, even if it is at the expense of the morale and respect of the staff?  Should a firm go the extra mile to please a fractious client even when that extra care means the transaction is no longer profitable to the company?   Does it make sense for a business to indulge the over-the-top demands of an exasperating client if it is going to overwhelm the business and cause it to neglect the needs of the rest of the clients? Continue reading

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Is a Workaholic the Best Hire?

Some say that it is better to work smarter, not harder.  That makes it sound like old-fashioned hard work is just that… passe.  That is, however, hardly the case.  The most successful people are usually deemed the most “hard-working”.  And by hard working, they mean people who work many long, arduous hours.  In fact, they lead the pack of notorious workaholics.  Consider this list published by BusinessInsider in 2012.  Howard Schultz, Starbucks coffee mogul, works 13 hour days, 7 days a week.  Mark Cuban, Mavericks owner and serial entrepreneur, worked seven years without a single vacation.  Jeffrey Immelt, GE CEO, regularly puts in 100-hour work weeks.  If that seems excessive, Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO, used to regularly put in 130-hour work weeks while at Google, in part by sleeping under her desk.  Tim Cook, Apple CEO, works practically 365 days a year and commonly has staff meetings on Sundays.  Indra Nooyi, Pepsi CEO, works 13-hour days while raising two daughters.  Ryan Seacrest, radio and TV show host, carries what is considered a preposterous workload.  Carlos Ghosn, Nissan and Renault CEO, spends 48 solid hours per month in the air and flies over 150,000 miles for work every year. Continue reading

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Is Less More When It Comes to Office Space?

Part 2 – Work Space, Creativity and Innovation

There has been a growing trend of businesses cutting back on the amount of work space allocated per person.  Sharing offices has become more common.  Cubicles are getting tinier.  And open shared space with a number of desks or work stations in one open area – once considered so cutting-edge — has become ubiquitous.  Employees are being packed into ever-smaller spaces.  There have been a few tech firms in the San Francisco Bay Area that have gotten to worker densities of up to seven workers per 1,000 square feet of space or 142 SF per employee.  The average just a decade ago was four workers per 1,000 square feet.  As the Russian adage says, they are packed so tight that there is no room for an apple to fall. Continue reading

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